Nine months—40 weeks—can seem like a really long time, especially if you’re pregnant. You’re tracking your pregnancy week by week, even daily, as that tiny little human grows inside of you. It’s really an exciting time, and I know I was on pins and needles in those final days and weeks, looking for signs that labor had begun.
The following are signs that labor may be near, or that you are in labor:
Your baby “drops.” As you near the end of your pregnancy, the baby will shift lower in your body to prepare for delivery. You can often tell a baby has dropped because you feel increased pelvic pressure—this is because the baby is sitting lower and his or her head is pushing down on that area of your body. You may find that you need to use the bathroom more often and that you have now started to “waddle” when you walk. It’s happened to many of us women in our pregnancy, so don’t let it get you down. It’s a good thing—baby is coming!
Cramps and increased back pain. Menstrual-like cramps are a common sign of early labor. Intense back pain is also a sign. This is often called “back labor,” as your muscles and joints are loosening and stretching. Back labor can be painful and uncomfortable, especially when coupled with contractions. To ease the pain, try taking a warm bath or shower or applying a hot or cold compress.
The phrase “sleep like a baby” is a punchline to the parents of newborns. When my first baby came along, “sleep like a baby” felt like a cruel joke. Her sleep was anything but sweet and peaceful, she didn’t gently nod off on her own, and almost anything seemed to wake her. Getting her to sleep was a battle. But what I was really battling was my own misunderstanding of how newborns sleep. The rules are different with newborns. Having realistic and fluid expectations of newborn sleep will go a long way in helping you feel calm and confident about the situation, although still pretty exhausted.
Here are some general characteristics of newborn sleep:
Newborns sleep a lot, but not for long. The total average is 16.5 hours of sleep per day. But the normal range is anywhere from 12-19 hours. At a time, the normal range is 30 minutes to 4 hour bouts of sleep at a time. Believe it or not, two hours for a newborn is considered a long stretch. And “sleeping through the night” for a baby is 4-5 hours. So rather than be exasperated when she wakes up again, plan on it.
Newborns sleep at all times, divided pretty evenly between night and day. Newborns haven’t started drumming to the circadian rhythm of night and day yet, and won’t even be developmentally able to until 2-4 months.
For nine (or ten) months, your body has been growing, expanding, and increasing. And we’re not just talking weight, bellies, and breasts. Feet are bigger, hair is fuller, and blood volume increases by 40-50%. At the time of delivery, the uterus has grown 15 times heavier since conception! The lining on the inside is thicker, too. And your hormones? There is an excess of those as well (since they are the culprits of all this growth). A woman produces more estrogen during one pregnancy than throughout her entire life when not pregnant!
But what goes up must (thankfully) come down! The changes to your body during pregnancy were pretty dramatic and obvious to the world. The body changes after birth are at least as dramatic but less obvious, and some happen mind-bogglingly fast. For example, you likely experienced your fastest weight-loss ever after giving birth: a 7-8 lb baby, a few pounds of blood, amniotic fluid, and placenta leaves most moms 12 lbs lighter. Why then will you likely still look pregnant? The uterus takes a little longer to adjust, as do other parts and systems of the body.
Choosing a name for your baby can be tough! Some people have had names in mind for years before their baby is even conceived. Some know their baby’s name as soon as they know the gender. Then there are others, like me, who struggle with choosing a name. We didn’t choose the names of our children until after they were born.
Many factors can go into choosing the perfect name for your little one. From using a family name, to choosing a fashion trend to inspire the name, to creating something brand new or uncommon, a lot goes into picking a name.
According to data from the Social Security Administration, here are the 50 most popular names for babies, based on data from the last 100 years (1914-2013):